Exploring the role of belongingness beliefs, adult attachment, and mood repair on behavior choice following aversive experiences
Individuals often respond to aversive events such as social rejection or exclusion by engaging in affiliative behaviors. It is generally assumed that a desire to restore belongingness motivates this affiliative behavior. However, these aversive events have been found to also impair one's mood and sense of self-esteem, control, and meaningful existence. Thus, it is unclear which motives actually underlie these affiliative responses. Additionally, despite the overlap between these possible motives in the belongingness and attachment constructs, the role of attachment in responses to threats to belongingness has been relatively understudied. To investigate the influence of several potential motives and individual differences in attachment on responses to aversive events, participants imagined one of four aversive events (i.e., rejection, exclusion, failure, or pain), chose between social and solitary analogs of comforting behaviors, and indicated their expectations of experiencing various benefits from engaging in these behaviors. Behavior choice and expectations of benefits were regressed on participants' attachment dimension scores, and behavior choice was regressed on expectations of benefits. The results of this study provide support for the premise that affiliative responses to aversive events are driven by multiple motives. Additionally, both behavior choice and expectations were influenced by participants' working models of others (WMO). Individuals with more positive WMO were more likely to choose to engage in social over solitary behaviors and expected to experience more benefits from engaging in these social behaviors relative to solitary behaviors. Only expectations of self-esteem were found to significantly predict behavior choice.